Novak Djokovic will take on Borna Coric in the Shanghai Masters final on Sunday after the Croatian 13th seed comfortably defeated top seed and defending champion Roger Federer.
Djokovic produced a flawless performance to thrash fourth seed Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1 in the first semi-final on Saturday, the victory guaranteeing the 31-year-old Serb a move up to No 2 in the world rankings.
Celebrating his 1,000 ATP Tour-level match in style, the 14-time grand slam winner was clinical, needing only an hour to defeat Germany’s Zverev and continue his imperious form to claim his 17th ATP victory in a row.
“Being No 2 after this tournament is also a great achievement, considering the first four, five months of the year and considering I had the surgery,” said Djokovic, who had elbow surgery in February but recovered to win Wimbledon and then the US Open last month.
“And where I was about four months ago and where I am today is quite an extreme opposite. I’m just cherishing that achievement and every moment spent on the court.”
Zverev, 21, called it a “weird” match and said he was never close to his best. The German world No 5 is visibly irate, even smashing his racquet before throwing it into the crowd.
But he had plenty of praise for Djokovic, saying: “He’s probably the best player in the world right now.
Djokovic will look to extend his winning run against Coric, after the Croatian stunned Federer 6-4, 6-4 in what was an unusually error-strewn performance from the 20-time grand slam champion.
Federer has not been at his best all week, dropping sets in the two opening matches of his wobbly title defence.
The 37-year-old Swiss was more like his old self on Friday, defeating eighth seed Kei Nishikori in two high-quality sets. But he made a slow start against Coric, ranked No 19 in the world, getting broken in the first game.
“I thought he was better, I think he had more punch on the ball. He served better,” said Federer, proclaiming himself pleased overall with his form.
“I feel like I’m explosive out there, returning well,” he added. “Serving, I think, it’s okay, could be even a little bit better.
“I don’t think I played a match where I didn’t get broken, so that’s something a bit more unusual for me.”
Federer won the Australian Open at the start of this year but has had a mediocre season by his sky-high standards.
He exited the US Open in the last 16 at the hands of unheralded Australian John Millman, ranked 55th, and only made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
In contrast, Coric, who is into his first Masters 1000 final, was largely untroubled on his serve, and has now beaten Federer twice – the previous time was in the final at Halle this year.